This last weekend was a complete rain-out at Texas Motor Speedway for both the Nationwide and NASCAR Sprint Cup series races. I just waited out the rain delay and we got see some pretty decent racing on Monday.
But the thing that caught my eye this weekend was the amount of race accident replays that Fox was airing.
On Sunday I tuned in and started to notice why some of my peers diss on NASCAR. With cowboy hats, broken English and an emotionally based reporter, some things seemed more clear today than most.
I tuned away to watch the Detroit / Phoenix hockey game, which didn’t help the mood as Phoenix scored in the first 20 seconds. A precursor of the game to come. When I tuned back into the Fox NASCAR broadcast, I was assailed with wreck after wreck after wreck from past races. I missed the opening line (excuse) as to why they were shoving this “noise” in my face and realized that the hard-core race fan does not matter to television. Ratings do. Now that makes perfect business sense. Yet I felt slighted that Fox broke down my sport to a collection of wrecks.
For a seasoned fan, I wasn’t very entertained. A wreck killed my favorite driver, and to glorify the deed wore me down.
But they weren’t done.
I got to tune into the Monday telecast of the NASCAR Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway with about 100 laps to go and to advertise for next week’s Talladega Superspeedway race, you’ll never guess what they used to pitch it? Yep. More wrecks. They showed some black and white footage of an older wreck as the car got into the catch-fence and then with that as their lead-in, it gave them ample opportunity (excuse) to show Carl Edwards’ wreck where a fan got a broken jaw from the devastation. That didn’t seem to matter.
If I were a race fan, and was trying to decide if I wanted to watch NASCAR or not, I would be gone. Instead, I’m the hard-core NASCAR fan that gets besieged by guerrilla advertising that Fox is employing, hoping to generate more ratings, now that ratings are getting a little flat.
I get letting the announcer be “hisself,” or wearing a cowboy hat. But that can’t help the image of the sport past the initial shock and awe period. I gave up trying to argue about how my favored sport is a legitimate endeavor. “I is competing” with hats and broken English trying to tell my coworkers to see past that. Then my buddies start recanting about the wrecks. Sigh. The wrecks get plastered on YouTube, on websites and even the news because it’s the big one that gets people’s attention. Hell, I even have friends that only tune in 4 times a year. Talladega and Daytona. Because of the big one. Sigh. That’s the marketing machine at work.
I’m a fan because I appreciate the technicalities of the car and the skills of the team and driver combined to put together a winning effort. And this kind of fan is getting left behind for the more glorified aspect of the sport, the train wrecks.
There really isn’t much we can do to fight this trend. It keeps the sport alive on the air. Meanwhile, the earnest fan has to pick his focus from the sport broadcast and appreciate what he or she can. Hopefully you too can find the parts that you like about NASCAR and enjoy them amongst the other details of the broadcast. It’s not like we have a choice, but we can decide what facet we can appreciate.
Guest post by Bruce Simmons, from NASCAR Bits & Pieces.